Naemi Dehde obtains information on Michael Flatley’s spy film.
Blackbird originally premiered in 2018, but quickly disappeared without leaving any traces or reviews. It simply seemed to have vanished. Now, after four years, it finally spreads its wings and soars into Irish theatres on 2 September, perfect timing for spy thrillers considering the ending of No Time to Die in 2021. Don’t get too excited just yet though. Most of the film appears to be a male power fantasy from the past century that disregards any cultural changes in the 21st century film industry. How Michael Flatley, who wrote, directed, financed and stars in the film, failed to recognise all this remains a mystery. But maybe, just maybe, it was his goal to write a spy film parody all along. Because that is what this ode to the (white, heterosexual) ‘male gaze’ appears to be in 2022: a parody of a 1960s spy film.
Flatley introduces audiences to a world where women miraculously stop ageing once they hit thirty and cannot help but fall in love with straight, white men twice their age. The plot revolves around troubled secret agent Victor Blackley, alias ‘Blackbird,’ who, sadly, is not an actual bird. In fact, the common blackbird, also known as Turdus merula, only makes a brief appearance at the beginning of the film. To be honest, its lack of screen time was rather disappointing. There is still hope though. Maybe Flatley will explore the birds’ side of the story in his promised sequel Blackbird 2. He could even try to get David Attenborough on board for the project. Anyway, back to Blackbird, which, as we’ve established, has a misleading title.
The narrative revolves around a retired spy, Victor Blackley, whose surname curiously rhymes perfectly with Flatley. So Flatley – no wait – Blackley involuntarily gets back in the game to save humanity and defeat the notorious criminal Blake, played by Eric Roberts. Blake also happens to be engaged with a not-so-old former lover of Victors’, Nicole Evans (who happens to be around the same age as Emma Roberts, Eric Roberts’ daughter). Their engagement can’t last for very long with Victor on the scene though, can it? Yeah, that’s basically the plot in a nutshell.
The film’s dialogue appears to be inspired by Screenrant’s ‘James Bond: 10 Cringiest Pick-up Lines That Haven’t Aged Well’ and an impressive panoply of clichés that only the worst of an introductory class on screenwriting could offer. The exchanges between characters are also kind enough to clear up any possible ambiguities regarding characters’ motivations and backstories or the general storyline, so audiences are told what’s going on for 90 minutes straight. Quite an experience.
Apart from that, there are some lovely shots of landscapes and oceans in the film. It remains up to the audience to decide whether these make up for the plethora of 1960s Bond stereotypes, shaken (not stirred), that are featured in the film. In other words, all you need to know about Blackbird is: Despite the title, it features strikingly few birds. However, surely, someone, somewhere will enjoy this film. Even if this someone might just be Michael Flatley himself.
Blackbird is in Irish cinemas from 2nd September 2022.